The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday


Letter Home
By Natasha Trethewey


--New Orleans, November 1910

Four weeks have passed since I left, and still
I must write to you of no work. I've worn down
the soles and walked through the tightness
of my new shoes calling upon the merchants,
their offices bustling. All the while I kept thinking
my plain English and good writing would secure
for me some modest position Though I dress each day
in my best, hands covered with the lace gloves
you crocheted--no one needs a girl. How flat
the word sounds, and heavy. My purse thins.
I spend foolishly to make an appearance of quiet
industry, to mask the desperation that tightens
my throat. I sit watching--

though I pretend not to notice--the dark maids
ambling by with their white charges. Do I deceive
anyone? Were they to see my hands, brown
as your dear face, they'd know I'm not quite
what I pretend to be. I walk these streets
a white woman, or so I think, until I catch the eyes
of some stranger upon me, and I must lower mine,
a negress again. There are enough things here
to remind me who I am. Mules lumbering through
the crowded streets send me into reverie, their footfall
the sound of a pointer and chalk hitting the blackboard
at school, only louder. Then there are women, clicking
their tongues in conversation, carrying their loads
on their heads. Their husky voices, the wash pots
and irons of the laundresses call to me.

I thought not to do the work I once did, back bending
and domestic; my schooling a gift--even those half days
at picking time, listening to Miss J--. How
I'd come to know words, the recitations I practiced
to sound like her, lilting, my sentences curling up
or trailing off at the ends. I read my books until
I nearly broke their spines, and in the cotton field,
I repeated whole sections I'd learned by heart,
spelling each word in my head to make a picture
I could see, as well as a weight I could feel
in my mouth. So now, even as I write this
and think of you at home, Goodbye

is the waving map of your palm, is
a stone on my tongue.

--------

Despite having an easygoing day, my cold has decided to get vastly worse instead of better. This sucks. Took younger son to violin at 11, his teacher paid him for feeding her birds and cat while she was out of town, he promptly asked to be taken to the mall so he could get a Test Tube Alien; I made him wait till late in the afternoon, by which time apaulled had been sent home from his office which closed early and older son had returned from playing Zelda on the Wii at his friend's house. We had dinner with my parents and nieces -- sister and her husband had gone to see Casino Royale, which they did not like any better than Happy Feet -- I mostly ate leftover carrot souffle, sweet potatoes and stuffing as I really hate day-old turkey, then we sat around chatting for awhile and came home.

I got two awesome early birthday presents: season two of Boston Legal from mamadracula, and both the Heath Ledger and David Tennant versions of Casanova from my good friend in London, since she had concluded that each had virtues that made it a must-see. Watched the Ledger one, which has gorgeous shots of Venice, is rather feminist in theme and plays like a Shakespearean comedy -- you can figure out which couples will be paired off almost from the start, and it's fun after The Merchant of Venice to see Jeremy Irons as a conservative Church idiot in another production with a cross-dressing woman lawyer (Sienna Miller not being the best I've seen, but vastly better than the vastly overrated Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love). After that public television was showing a Pink Floyd concert (it's pledge drive week, heh), so that's been on in the background. thefridayfive:

Thankfulness
1. What are you most thankful for?
My family and friends.
2. Think back one year, have the things you are thankful for changed? Not really. Am slightly more thankful for the US government this year than last, though the balance of power hasn't actually changed yet.
3. What did you feast on yesterday? Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, carrot souffle, red bliss potatoes, German chocolate cake.
4. This time of year is filled with parties, gifts, friends, and family, what are you looking forward to the most? Hanging out in Pennsylvania with my in-laws and sightseeing there.
5. (insert December holiday here) is coming up, what if anything do you want for it? I'm turning 40 in December and will be perfectly happy with health and a working laptop.
BONUS: How do you like to cook your turkey? I like my mother to do the cooking!


A last batch of Bonsai pictures from the National Arboretum. This is a Trident Maple.


Toringo Crabapple, trained since 1905.


Foemina Juniper, trained since 1970.


Needle Juniper, trained since 1966.


California Juniper, trained since 1964.


I love that the leaves change even on the miniature trees.
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Saturday we may be going to Great Falls, or downtown, but the cats had BETTER let me sleep late...they didn't on Friday!
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